AAP leader and former Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia.
AAP leader and former Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia.FILE Photo | ANI

HC rejects bail of Manish Sisodia, says his conduct amounts to 'great betrayal of democratic principles'

"The case exemplifies grave abuse of public authority by Sisodia. The prosecution establishes, prima facie, a case of money laundering under Section 3 of the PMLA against him," said the judge.

NEW DELHI: In a major setback to AAP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected his bail plea in the excise policy case, noting that his conduct amounts to a "great betrayal of democratic principles".

"The case exemplifies grave abuse of public authority by Sisodia. The prosecution establishes, prima facie, a case of money laundering under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against him," said Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma in her order, while rejecting the bail plea of Sisodia.

Severely castigating the AAP leader for framing a policy to enrich private persons, the HC, in its order, said, "Sisodia used deceptive methods to show that the Delhi excise policy had public support but, in reality, the policy was framed to enrich a few individuals. This constitutes a form of corruption."

Sisodia had sought bail in cases being investigated by the CBI and ED in the Delhi liquor case.

This was the second bail plea moved by Sisodia, who has been in custody since February 26, 2023, after his arrest by the CBI. Thereafter, he was arrested by the ED on March 9, 2023.

While rejecting his bail, Justice Sharma said that the case involves great misuse of power and breach of public trust by Sisodia.

Referring to the damage allegedly caused by Sisodia to two of his mobile phones, the HC observed that he indulged in acts of destruction of crucial evidence, including electronic evidence.

Taking into record the fact that Sisodia was holding an important position in the Delhi government and handling multiple portfolios and that he being a senior leader of AAP is an influential person, the HC rejected his bail.

"This court is of the opinion that the petitioner (Sisodia) has not been able to make out a case for grant of bail in his favour," the HC said in its order.

The judge had heard the detailed arguments from the ED, CBI and Sisodia and reserved its verdict on May 14.

During the course of the hearing, the ED had argued that it would make the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) an accused in the next prosecution complaint (charge sheet) in the money laundering case stemming out of the Delhi excise policy case.

Both the probe agencies -- ED and CBI -- have opposed Sisodia's bail pleas on the grounds that there are concerted efforts by him to delay the process of framing charges in the case. "He should not be granted bail at this stage," the ED said.

Opposing the submissions of the CBI and ED, Sisodia had told the HC that both the probe agencies were still arresting people in the money laundering and corruption case and there is no question of early conclusion of the trial. "I thereby should be released bail on this ground," he submitted to the court.

Meanwhile, in a similar development on Tuesday, Sisodia's judicial custody was extended till May 30 in the case.

The CBI had registered the case against Sisodia in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor excise policy 2021-22, naming him as one of the accused in the case.

Sisodia had in the month of May first week moved the Delhi High Court challenging the Rouse Avenue Court's April 30 order of dismissal of his bail in Delhi liquor scam case, probed by the CBI and ED.

Sisodia is presently in judicial custody in both the cases registered by the CBI and the ED in the Delhi Excise Policy case.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior lawyer for Sisodia, had submitted to the court that the former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister is languishing in jail for more than a year, as he was arrested on February 26, 2023, for alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 following several rounds of questioning. "He is innocent in the case. He has no role in the Delhi liquor case," he told the court.

The prosecutor for the CBI, Pankaj Gupta, opposed the bail plea of Sisodia and said that the accused did not satisfy the rigours of grant of bail under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering). He said that Sisodia is a powerful person with "political clout".

Sisodia was denied bail by the trial court, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in both ED and CBI cases. The Supreme Court had also dismissed Sisodia's review petition. His curative petition has also been dismissed. So far, he failed to get any relief from courts in the case.

In March, the trial court had dismissed his bail plea saying he (Manish Sisodia) was prima facie the “architect” of the alleged scam and had played the “most important and vital role” in the criminal conspiracy related to alleged payment of advance kickbacks of nearly Rs 100 crore meant for him and his colleagues in the Delhi government.

The Supreme Court had on December 14 last year rejected his plea seeking review of its earlier decision of October 30, denying him bail in the case.

The New Indian Express